Singapore on Thursday (Oct 6) signed two agreements with the state of Rajasthan. The agreements aim to boost Rajasthan’s tourism industry, while giving Singapore companies opportunities to expand overseas.
International Enterprise (IE) Singapore signed the first agreement with the Rajasthani government to facilitate partnerships in the areas of urban solutions and tourism development. In the works are two projects: One on waste management, and another to provide digital networks to remote areas.
Rajasthan is the largest state in India by land area, with 83 cities and a population of 68.6 million people.
IE Singapore’s subsidiary, the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE), signed the second agreement to develop a training programme for about 100 Rajasthani government officials in the state’s Tourism Department.
Tourism is a key sector in Rajasthan. In 2013, it received more than 34 million visitors, including 1.5 million foreign tourists. The city of Udaipur is also a popular Indian tourist destination, known as the "Venice of the East".
The SCE programme will consist of seven workshops - five in Jaipur and two in Singapore - spanning topics like promotion and destination marketing. The Temasek Foundation will provide a grant of S$484,010 to co-fund the training programme, while the Rajasthani Tourist Department will provide S$215,200.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is on a five-day working visit to India, witnessed the exchange of the agreements at the Oberoi Hotel. He had earlier met Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Thursday.
Mr Lee then launched a new tourism training centre at the Mohanlal Sukhadia University, a public varsity in Udaipur. The centre is slated to begin courses in late 2016, and will offer tourism and hospitality training in areas such as retail services and culinary arts.
Singapore’s ITE Education Services (ITEES) will help develop the curriculum and training programme, while the Rajasthani government will be responsible for the facilities, equipment and recruitment of trainers. The centre will have up to 36 trainers, and accommodate up to 480 students per year.
The launch comes more than a year after both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Jaipur. The centre also comes in support of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s "Skills India" initiative, which aims to train 400 million Indians by 2022. It is the second project involving ITEES after the World Class Skills Centre in New Delhi, established in 2012.
Singapore’s Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who unveiled a plaque with Ms Raje to mark the centre’s launch, said these initiatives and agreements come as governments around the world are pushing for more skilled training, and in turn, better skilled workers.
Boosting bilateral cooperation in the area of skills development has also been a recurrent theme of Mr Lee’s visit. “I think all around the world there’s greater realisation that it is really your skills, your competency that will make you valuable to industries and valuable to employers,” Mr Ong said.
The Acting Education Minister, who co-chairs the Future Jobs and Skills sub-committee of the Committee on the Future Economy, added that Singapore brings to India its knowledge in “training people and upgrading vocational expertise”.
“India is going through a phase where more investments are coming in, it’s growing at 7.3 per cent, 7.5 per cent, and lots of industries need people with the correct vocational skills, and from this aspect they find it’s useful to learn from the Singapore experience.”
He added that various states have been approaching Singapore to set up skills development centres throughout India.